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What South Carolina Coach Lamont Paris Said After Tennessee Defeated The Gamecocks

Photo via South Carolina Athletics

Tennessee basketball eliminated South Carolina from the regular season SEC Championship race on Wednesday night by knocking off the Gamecocks 66-59 in Columbia.

It’s been an incredible year from South Carolina to date. The media picked the Gamecocks to finish last in the SEC this season and South Carolina is tied for second place with one-game remaining in the regular season.

Following Tennessee’s victory, South Carolina coach Lamont Paris discussed the difference in the two matchups between the Vols and Gamecocks, where South Carolina goes from here and much more. Here’s what Paris said.

More From RTI: Tennessee Players Discuss Winning The SEC Championship

Opening Statement

“Feel bad for our guys. They wanted to win so badly. But incredible effort against a really good team. (Tennessee is) conference champs. You don’t accidentally fall into that status. But I thought we had some chances. I thought it wasn’t for lack of effort, that was for sure. We played really, really hard. We wanted to win badly. Just it wasn’t our day in some ways, then we compounded that with a couple of things. I think we’ll look back and there will be four or five things that we had a lot of control over that, the play didn’t turn out or way and it yielded points for them because of something we’ve could’ve controlled.

“But they have a good team, they have an experienced team. Vets, tough, they’ve got a prolific scorer. At least one. I don’t want to minimize anyone else’s contributions on their side of the ball, but at least one prolific scorer. It’s just hard. It’s a hard thing to just wrap your mind around when you’ve got the guys in the locker room hurting like that. But the sun will come up tomorrow. We’ve got a lot that we’re still playing for. A lot of milestones that are still out there for us. A lot of them are in the rearview mirror. I joked around with them. I said the SEC just wasn’t quite ready for us to do all that and end up being first place in the league, so we’ll have to settle for something else. But it was a great effort by our guys and their guys, too. It was a great basketball game. Just came up short.”

On South Carolina running Tennessee off the 3-point line, what the Vols were able to do offensively in the paint 

“They’re a good team. They’re going to get some things done. When I look back at it, here’s what I look at. I’ll really try to get to the bottom of some transition situations. Why did those happen? I know they got some stuff in transition. I don’t know how many points (13), but in the first half they had some transition stuff. What was the root of that? Could we have controlled some of that? My guess is that we could have. I’ll look at some of our defensive responsibilities and just a couple rules. And I know we violated some rules defensively.

“I mean, I think ultimately for me it boils down to that. I really want to look at the things that we could’ve controlled. Were there enough of those that could’ve impacted the game. I think, without a doubt, the answer is yes. They got some stuff inside. They were aggressive. They ducked in there. They got some threes also. They have a good team. But all said and done, overall from a defensive standpoint, the body of it, we talked about it before, Dalton Knecht had 26 points on how many field-goal attempts? 23. I can’t control who shoots on their end, but that’s a number I like, honestly. Someone is going to write, Dalton Knecht had 23 points as they win the conference championship but, honestly, those numbers are probably where I want a prolific scorer to be. 26 points on 23 shots. It just was some other stuff honestly. It came down to some other stuff. Some of it was we were excited and maybe that made it a little harder for us to stick to the script on a couple of defensive things. You want to make a play and honestly sometimes the play is kind of hidden out there and just being solid is the play. But guys want to make a play, they want to get a steal, they want to block a shot, they want to make a spectacular play and I think that led to a couple of things where ordinarily we’ve been a little more solid than that.”

On what about South Carolina’s makeup will help the Gamecocks move on from this loss

“It’ll be a hard night for them I imagine. I mean, coaches will come in and we’ll have to do some damage control tomorrow at practice. Just emotionally it’s— trust me, people know and these guys know. There aren’t any secrets as to who picked who where and all this and the other so they’ve owned that and they’ve earned that badge all season. They’ve continued to perform on a consistent basis, a consistent basis. So they expected to win today so this is going to be a hard loss for them. But we’ll do some damage control tomorrow with the guys and we’ll spend a full day just doing our stuff and all that. But it’s unbelievable character that this team has. I’m telling you it’s unbelievable. I’ve done this for a long time and I’ve had some really good ones. I’ve been apart of some teams where it’s like wow if we could ever get close to that, that would be awesome. Forget about making shots and we’ve gone beyond that in most cases. It’s unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable group and I can’t say that enough but because of that it does make it, we’ll move forward. We moved forward after the LSU game. That was a hard one. Particularly the way it ended and about the ramifications of that when you’re in a race like this. We moved forward from that and we put three games together to that point. We’ll move forward. They’re young. They’re resilient and so we’ll get back to it and just prepare for what’s next for us.”

On how well Tennessee moves without the ball and how difficult that is to defend with how well they catch and shoot the basketball

“We’ve played other teams that have played that, like them. We played them before and they didn’t have near as many as those. They just didn’t. I think our determination in some of the chasing — there was one time in particular I thought one guy was a little fatigued and I maybe should have pulled him out of there. He was playing pretty well. I could have gotten him out there maybe a couple minutes before that play happened, but hindsight is always 20-20 on that. But I’ll have to look at it and see what the real root of it was. 

“There was sometimes where the first screen in a stagger was a guard to guard and we could have switched some of those. And we’ve talked about doing some of that. We don’t switch a lot of things, but that’s one scenario that we will switch from time to time, so without really seeing it, I need to lay my eyes on it and see what the root problem of what it was for that. I know a couple of times we didn’t chase. Just the quality of chase just was not great. I know that. So when I see that in the game, I try not to overreact but I’m going to react to that because all I see is a seven-foot gap between the shooter and the chaser. I need to see why that happened.”

On Tennessee not switching as much defensively as it did in Knoxville

“Yeah, they didn’t switch as much and they crowded the paint. I generally like it more when guys don’t switch as much, typically. But they have hard-nosed defenders and here’s what I thought impacted us: when we would try to come off of a screen, there would be contact, so that discouraged us — probably both as a screener and a cutter —  but it discouraged us from coming off the screen the way that we needed to come off the screen. And that’s not to insinuate that those were fouls. I don’t want anybody to twist my words just based on what you may feel about the fouls in that game. But it did discourage us and we’re not easily discouraged typically, but we were when it came to that. I was a little disappointed in that. But they’re good at it. They muscle you off of stuff. They do what people call blow up hand-offs. They blew up the handoff when Myles (Stute) got the offensive foul. A multitude of times they did that. They’re good, they’re good defensively. I know I’m stating the obvious. Teams don’t typically score in the 80’s and 90’s against that team. So we had some struggles. But we did not shoot the ball great. We had some stuff that I thought was good. We had some stuff in transition where we moved the ball ahead and had an open shot. We just didn’t make it. Overall, I thought what we did offensively was probably good enough. We could have done better, but I thought it was probably good enough.”

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